Career Guide

To Know About Japan's New Specified Skilled Worker Visa

To Know About Japan's New Specified Skilled Worker Visa

In April 2019, Japan undertook a new immigration policy to alleviate problems caused by the country's rapidly graying and shrinking population, including labor shortages, rural depopulation and increasing pressure on social services.

A new visa status,"Tokutei ginou", which means specified skills in Japanese, while the residence status named "Specified Skilled Worker" in English, was introduced. Japanese government plans to bring about 345,000 non-Japanese blue-collar workers under the new visa status over the next five years. Moreover, qualified workers can stay longer, bring their families to Japan, and in some cases turn into permanent citizens.Notoriously with strict immigration rules, Japan has made a major policy shift.

Difference between Specified Skilled Worker No. 1 and No. 2

There are Specified Skilled Worker No. 1 and No. 2 under the new visa status, with the main difference in period of stay and accepting industries.

Specified Skilled Worker No.1 is applicable to foreigners who work in jobs that require considerable knowledge of or experience in the above 14 industries. It has a maximum stay up to 5 years in total and can be renewed annually, every 6 months or every 4 months. No.1 holders are not permitted to bring their families to Japan and they are eligible to support by accepting organization or registered support organizations.

Specified Skilled Worker No.2 targets foreigners with proficient skills in only 2 industries: Construction Industry and Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery Industry. It has no limitation in renewal counts and can be renewed every three years, one year, or six months, which means that it can lead to a permanent stay in Japan.No.2 holders are permitted to bring their spouse, children to Japan.They are not eligible to support by accepting organization or registered support organizations.

Aimed to allow industries that are experiencing extreme labor shortages to recruit foreign human resources,14 specified industry fields can accept the new Specified Skilled Worker.The designated industries and jobs to engage in and competent ministry of them are as follows.

1Ministry of Health,Labour and Welfare

Care Worker:

Nursing care

Building Cleaning Management:

Interior building cleaning

2Ministry of Economy,Trade and Industry

Machine Parts and Tooling Industries:

Casting, Metal press, Finishing, Welding, Forging, Factory sheet metal work, Machine inspection, Diecasting, Electroplating, Painting, Machine maintenance, Machining, Aluminium anodizing.

Industrial Machinery Industry:

Casting, Painting, Finishing,Electrical equipment assembling, Welding, Forging, Iron work, Machine inspection, Printed writing board manufacturing, Industrial packaging, Die casting, Factory sheet metal work, Machine maintenance, Plastic molding, Machining, Plating, Electronic equipment assembling, Metal press

Electric, Electronics and Information Industries:

Machining, Finishing, Printed writing board manufacturing, Industrial packaging, Metal press,Machine maintenance, Plastic molding,Factory sheet metal work, Electronic equipment assembling, Painting, Plating, Electrical equipment assembling, Welding

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure,Transport and Tourism

Construction Industry:

Formwork construction, Earthwork, Interior finishing/material, mounting, Plastering, Roofing, Concrete pumping,Telecommunications, Tunnel and Propulsion, Reinforcement construction, Construction machinery and construction, Reinforcing bar joints

Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery Industry:

Welding, Finishing, Painting, Machining, Iron work, Electrical equipment assembling

Automobile Repair and Maintenance:

Automobile everyday inspection and maintenance, Regular inspection and maintenance, Disassembly

Aviation Industry:

Airport ground handling, Aircraft maintenance

Accommodation Industry:

Providing accommodation services such as working at the front desk, planning/public relations, hospitality, restaurant services

Ministry of Agriculture,Forestry and Fisheries


General crop farming, General livestock farming

Fishery and Aquaculture:

Fishery, Aquaculture industry

Manufacture of Food and Beverages:

General food and beverage manufacturing

Food Service Industry:

General restaurant industry

Difference between Specified Skilled Worker and Technical Intern Training

Though opposite to its initial purpose,Japanese companies have been using Technical Intern Training visa to hire low-skilled workers until now.Compared with the new Specified Skilled Worker, there are several differences between them.

Purpose of the visa.

Specified Skilled Worker is aimed at solving the shortage of Japanese labor force, while Technical Intern Training is for the purpose of "international contribution", and aimed at having foreigners acquire Japanese excellent technologies and making use of them in their home countries.

Accepting industries.

Specified Skilled Worker can be accepted by only 14 industries, while Technical Intern Training has no such limitations.

Host country.

Specified Skilled Worker has no limitation on the nationality of foreigners in principle, while Technical Intern Training is limited to 15 countries including India, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, etc.

Accepting scheme.

Specified Skilled Worker is only between foreign workers and the accepting organization without brokers or other parties, while Technical Intern Training has a very complex system with five parties: The foreign worker, the sending organization (the company that works after returning home country), a business cooperative(to make a work contract with the sending organization), the foreign technical internship organization ( to approve the technical internship plan), the accepting organization. In fact, almost all the interns have to pay a large amount of guarantee deposit to the sending organization, while Specified Skilled Worker has no need to pay any fee to any organization.

Change job.

Technical Intern Training is not allowed to change jobs, while Specified Skilled Worker is able to change workplaces in the same job category, and also possible to change to a different job category in the same field or to a different industrial field if the skill level is recognized as similar to the current level through exams. For example, the 3 industries under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry: Machine Parts and Tooling, Industrial Machinery, Electric, Electronics and Information, are thought to have some common skills like Welding. So a foreigner who has passed "Manufacturing Field Specific Skill No.1 Evaluation Test (Welding)" is able to work in all these 3 industries as a Welding worker.

Who can apply for a Specified Skilled Worker Visa?

Currently two kinds of foreigners can apply for this new visa No.1.

  1. Foreigners who passed the skills exam and the Japanese language test in Japan or their home country.
  2. Foreigners who have completed Technical Intern Training No.2, as they are thought to be competent in skills and Japanese language so that the tests are exempted.

Currently only one kind of foreigners can apply for this new visa No.2.

  1. Foreigners who have completed Specified Skilled Worker No.1 in 2 industries: Construction Industry and Shipbuilding and Ship Machinery Industry.

Flow of acquiring a Specified Skilled Worker Visa

To apply for the new visa, the above potential applicants should:

  1. Sign an employment contract with an accepting organization.
  2. Make application for Certificate of Eligibility at the Regional Immigration Bureau in Japan by themselves or by proxy like an employee of Accepting Organization, etc.
  3. Make visa application at Japanese Embassies or Consulates-General in Japan or their home countries by themselves or proxy. The documents needed are: ①Passport ②One visa application form, can be downloaded from the HP ③One photograph of passport size ④Original Certificate of Eligibility and one copy
  4. Japanese Embassies will issue the new visa.